SUEZ, Egypt (AP) – A large cargo ship remained stranded on both sides of the Suez Canal in Egypt for the fifth day on Saturday, as authorities made new efforts to free the vessel and reopen a waterway. crisis that hinders shipping and global trade.
Meanwhile, the head of the Suez Canal Authority said strong winds were “not the only reason” for the Ever Given land run on Tuesday, apparently pushing back against controversial assessments offered by others . Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei said at a press conference Saturday that an investigation was underway but did not rule out human or technical error.
The huge Ever Given, a Panama-flagged ship carrying goods between Asia and Europe, crashed into a one-way stretch of the waterway, about six kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the entrance to the south, near the city of Suez.
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Rabei said he could not predict when the vessel would be dismantled. A Dutch rescue company is expected to refurbish the vessel with tugs and dredges, taking advantage of high tides.
Rabei said he was still hopeful that scrapping could free the ship without trying to remove its cargo, but said “we are in a difficult situation, that it is a bad incident.”
When asked when they planned to free the vessel and reopen the canal, he said: “I can’t say because I don’t know.”
Shoei Kisen, the company that owns the vessel, said they were considering removing vessels if other refurbishment efforts failed.
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, technical manager of the Ever Given, said “major progress” was made late Friday at the end of the ship where its ruler was released from sediment, with another attempt to free the vessel around mid-range Saturday night.
They said about a dozen tugs were working on Saturday along with scraping work that removed sand and mud from the left side of the ship’s bow.
About 9,000 tonnes of ballast water have already been extracted from the vessel, the canal chairman said.
Since the blockade began, marine traffic jams had grown to more than 320 vessels waiting on both ends of the Suez Canal and in the Great Bitter Lake in the middle of the canal.
Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, the rescue company hired to take out the Ever Given, said the company hoped to pull the carrier free within days using a combination of heavy, dredged and high tide thatched boats.
He told the Nieuwsuur Dutch current affairs show on Friday night that the front of the ship is locked in sandy clay, but the back was not “pushed completely into the clay and that is positive because you can see the rear end. used to drag her free. . “
Berdowski said two large thatched boats were en route to the canal and are expected to arrive over the weekend. He said the company aims to harness the power of the tubs, dredging and tidal, which he said is expected to be up to 50 centimeters (20 inches) higher on Saturday.
“The combination of the [tug] We will have boats there, more land scraped away and the high tide, we hope that will be enough to get the boat for free somewhere early next week, ”he said.
If that doesn’t work, the company will remove hundreds of vessels from the front of the ship to unload it, effectively building the vessel to make it easier to tow for free, Berdowski said.
There was already a crane on its way that could lift the vessels off the ship, he said.
The rescue mission was turning the focus to the ship’s lodge arch, after making some progress toward the boat’s end, the canal service provider Half Agencies said Saturday.
Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly described the vessel as a “special event,” in his initial public comments on the blockade.
The Suez Canal Authority organized its first media trip Saturday to the site where the vessel was stuck. From a distance, a flotilla of tugboats and other rescue equipment appeared minuscule compared to the vessel, revealing the scale of the mishandling and the efforts required to reopen the canal.
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement said Friday that their initial investigation showed the vessel landed due to strong winds and was ruled out by mechanical or engine failure. However, Rabei appeared to be pushing back against that assessment on Saturday, saying all possibilities were being investigated, including human and technical errors.
Prolonged closure of the emergency waterway would delay the global freight chain. About 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year, according to official figures. About 10 percent of global trade flows through the waterway. The closure could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East.
Some vessels began to change course and dozens of vessels were still en route to the waterway, according to data company Refinitiv.
It was not clear how long the blockage would last. Even after reopening the canal connecting Asian factories to customers in Europe, the waiting vessels are likely to reach busy ports, forcing them to delay further before loading .